Social networking

Social Networking: New times for communication?

Social networks and the need to communicate are universal human conditions. A general assumption is that communication technologies help to increase and strengthen social relations. The Internet provides many social networking opportunities. But how do social networking sites affect individual relationships? Do people use social networkingsites to expand their personal networks, to find people who have had similar experiences, to discuss a common hobby, for the potential of offline dating? Or, do people spend time on networking sites to deepen their existing personal networks and stay connected to old friends or distant family? What is the nature of the communications that transpire on social networking sites? Is it personal,emotional, private, and important; or trivial, informal, and public?

A social network is a configuration of people connected to one another through interpersonal means, such as friendship, common interests, or ideas. “Social networking” was not created in the age of the Internet; it existed long before. Social networks exist because humans are societal and require relationships with otherhumans in order to survive. Social networks are critical to the psychological well-being of humans; this has been well documented throughout the years and is still interesting to researchers today. Networked computers allow social networks to expand and grow in ways that were previously unanticipated. Social networking, as the phrase is being used in industry and in pop culture today, refers to theuse of a specific type of Web site focused on the creation and growth of online social networks which allows users to interact. Most social networking sites encourage communication with others by providing directories of relevant user populations, opportunities for self-description and content uploads, and/or recommender systems.

As maybe of you may be thinking right now, it is impossibleto talk about social networks without refering to “facebook”. Internet users all around the world consider “facebook” the biggest and most important social network ever created. It started as a project of a Harvard graduate to build a network where students from different universities where able to share different information. At that moment it was only though for academic porpoises but as it wasopened to all the potential users of internet its expansion was amazing. Nowadays they have more than 200 Million users all around the world.

But, what is so special about this solution and what changes can we observe in the communication process due to these types of innovations? Facebook has absolutely changed the way we stay in contact with our friends, our family and other socialcontacts, such as workmates. There are multiple options that the web offers to the user. Upload pictures and videos, write personal descriptions, write on other´s personal board or search for people we know to add. We can even know who is online and start and instant message conversation with them. Imagine how much information we can get about people we barely know. Their pictures, their friends… Weare able to know a person and maybe we just had a 2 minute conversation in the office. The concept matches perfectly with our nowadays lifestyle. Today everything should be fast to be effective. The same happens with communication where Facebook helps people to know each other in a much shorter time. In order to expand our social life, it is helpful to have a web-profile where everybody can learnsomething from us in minutes. This way we have more options to know more people.

Of course this easy way to get access to personal information could be dangerous or at least risky if we consider the amount of important facts that everyone can get from us on the web. Age, relationship status, hobbys, and other things that we wouldn´t share with our workmates or bosses for example. There…